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Congressional candidate Neill Mohammad talks Medicare at Q&A session

DeKALB – Lorna Knuuttila has lived at Heritage Woods of DeKalb for two years and said it was interesting to hear congressional candidate Neill Mohammad’s stances on Social Security and Medicare.

“I need them both,” Knuuttila said.

Mohammad, a DeKalb resident who grew up here and worked as a hospital administration consultant before his campaign began, is running as a Democrat in Illinois’ 16th Congressional District against U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon. As part of his campaign, he stopped by the assisted living center Thursday to address residents’ concerns on health care and other issues.

“Communities like Heritage Woods of DeKalb are critical in offering affordable housing and care for our district’s seniors,” Mohammad said. “Heritage Woods is certified through Illinois’ Supportive Living program, which welcomes all prospective residents, including those on Medicaid.”

When asked whether Medicaid should be funded through block grants, Mohammad said he opposed the idea because when a state is given money with no strings attached, it’s possible it will not go toward caring for senior citizens. This is more likely to occur in Illinois, which has more fiscal problems than the average state, Mohammad said.

He said one area of senior care that needs improvement and additional support is home health services.

Home health care workers make about $13,000 a year on average, which is less than what someone makes at McDonald’s, so it’s hard to keep people in that line of work, Mohammad said.

In response, Mohammad said he is working with Caring Across Generations, a campaign geared to provide more infrastructure to caregiving services, to fold home health care into a system similar to Medicare.

When a resident asked what he wants to see change about senior care, Mohammad said he wants the country to be on a truly universal health care system, such as other “advanced and wealthy countries.”

Mohammad referenced a recent study from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine that found child mortality in the U.S. has been higher than in peer nations since the 1980s. This makes reform a both moral and financial challenge, Mohammad said.

“That is the reality of it,” he said.

After the session, Mohammad took a tour of Heritage Woods and met with residents.

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